Valve's founder hosted an hour-long talk at the University of Texas; what secrets did he reveal?
Gabe Newell, the benevolent genie who pretty much gives Valve the gift of life, gave a talk to University of Texas students, discussing pretty much everything under the sun. Including, among many other things, how the internet will flatten corporate structures across the board.
"It seems fairly obvious that the Internet does a better job of organizing a bunch of individuals than General Motors or Sears does," said Newell. "Corporations [with hierarchies] tend to be pre-internet ways of organizing production." Meanwhile Valve, which famously has as little structure as it can get away with, does just fine without bosses, titles and chains of command. Newell hopes other companies will eventually embrace a model not unlike Valve's own.
Is that all he said? Lord no; the talk was an hour long, after all, and if you have the time, it's well worth watching, particularly if you have any interest in the early development of Valve. Why shouldn't companies outsource? How do you attract and retain the most highly productive staff? Why won't Valve sell stock in itself? How important are quantitative future predictions? Can free-to-play work? How aggressive should your hire/fire strategy be? Just what is "beaten wife syndrome"? Newell knows, and will tell you.
"I think the pre-internet way of communicating to users," Newell concludes, "the one-size-fits-all [philosophy] ... our children are going to say 'that is the weirdest thing I've ever heard of' ... the sets of lessons we're learning today in the videogame space are going to be true of a much wider range of industries tomorrow."